A reader, Dan Stout asks: “My biggest issue right now is finding a way to balance the time spent on different projects. One may have reached the editing stage while others are still mid-draft, and it can be tough to know when to focus on one project over another. This is especially true when working on things that have self-applied deadlines, as those can slide so easily.”
This is an awesome question, and I’m sure many of you are nodding your heads in agreement. What a struggle this is – first we try to find the right clients or come up with great projects – only to realize we can’t create balance and some projects are falling behind.
The simplest answer, Dan, is to let it go.
You’ve probably already read that the work-life balance philosophy is a myth. I’ve learned that no matter what, when you focus on one thing, other things end up getting lost.
But the real answer isn’t quite that simple. Here’s the first thing that comes to mind:
Self-imposed deadlines don’t always work.
I love setting them myself, but it can be really easy to just push that due date back…and back some more…
Ask Someone to Hold You Accountable
Even if it’s another freelancer or someone in your family, I’d suggest having a deadline that they will “set” for you. That adds accountability when you can’t motivate yourself.
Instead of saying, “I’d like to get 500 words of my book done by tomorrow,” write down, “My first draft is due to Wally West is due by tomorrow.”
Create Real Deadlines
Another suggestion is to plan around events. If you know you have a vacation set up, or a doctor’s appointment, or a lunch, turn those dates into deadlines.
My Pick to Stay Balanced? Time Yourself!
One thing that has helped me tremendously is the Pomodoro technique. (That link will take you to other posts where I mention this.)
This technique is the foundation for the Mastery Journal from John Lee Dumas. (Not an affiliate link. It’s just a great concept!) You find 3-4 items that you must get done and set aside the same amount of time for each.
Set a timer for 30 minutes to 45 minutes (for me that’s about where I need to rest my brain). Take a break for 10-15 minutes and do it again. So even if you’re still at different stages of the writing process with different projects, you know that you’ve put the same amount of time into each project.
Reader questions are the best, because I know they are ideas that will make a difference to at least one person.
I love MFL, because I feel like it’s a safe (albeit, very public) place to talk about the woes of having a small business/freelancing and what to do to prevent life from getting in the way. Of course, over the years, I’ve thought about a way to monetize that one nugget, but I haven’t yet. (Taking suggestions!)
Please send your questions my way by replying in the comments and also share techniques that you do to get projects done.
Check out the previous “Reader Q’s.
Here’s the part of the blog post where I say, “Look at me! I’m a writer and an admin. Work with me!”